Maritime Injury Update – Anthem of the Seas

The recent voyage of Royal Carribean’s Anthem of the Seas right into a hurricane has passengers asking about their rights and possibly looking for a maritime injury lawyer.

According to CNN, the cruise contracts specific to each cruise line that passengers agree to before boarding spell out exactly what passengers are entitled to in various situations that might occur at sea. That includes what happens during bad weather.

Luckily only four people had minor injuries out of 6,000 passengers and 1,500 crew members. Federal authorities soon could be looking into Royal Caribbean’s decision to allow Anthem to sail toward a storm so strong that the captain confined passengers to their cabins for safety. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida has called for a National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the event.

Here are some more links to stories about the event:

New fiduciary standards and stockbroker fraud

There is a battle going on right now in Congress that will affect stockbroker fraud cases in the years to come. Here are some updates and stories from various news sources to get you up-to-speed quickly.

  • Department of Labor Proposes Rule to Address Conflicts of Interest in Retirement Advice, Saving Middle-Class Families Billions of Dollars Every Year. Read more.
  • Simfa Overview: The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed a change to the definition of fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) that would expand the scope of those who become fiduciaries. Read more.
  • As DOL fiduciary clears latest hurdle, stockbrokers expect changes will be made. Read more.
  • New York Times – Why Investors Are Right to Be Distrustful. Read more.
  • What a fiduciary standard would do to stockbroker fraud. Read more.

Ultimately, if you believe you have been a victim of stockbroker frauds and need to talk to a securities fraud lawyer in Baltimore or Maryland, contact West & West immediately.

FINRA Sanctions LPL Financial LLC $11.7 Million for Widespread Supervisory Failures

FINRA recently censured LPL Financial LLC and fined it $10 million for broad supervisory failures in a number of key areas, including the sales of non-traditional exchange-traded funds (ETFs), certain variable annuity contracts, non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) and other complex products as well as its failure to monitor and report trades and deliver to customers more than 14 million trade confirmations.  In addition to the fine, FINRA ordered LPL Financial to pay approximately $1.7 million in restitution to certain customers who purchased non-traditional ETFs.

If you purchased non-traditional ETFs, variable annuities or REITs from a broker affiliated with LPL Financial please contact the investment fraud attorneys at West & West for a free initial consultation.

FINRA Bars Two Virginia FAs In Connection With Allegations Involving Converting Client Funds

Tammy Charlene Petersen formerly of Merrill Lynch and Kirsten Flynn Hawkins formerly of SunTrust Investment Services, Inc. both were barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity in connection with allegations involving the conversion of client funds.

Tammy Petersen, formerly with Merrill Lynch in Carrollton, Virginia, consented to the bar and to the entry of findings that she converted approximately $107,378 from customers for her own use and benefit without the customer’s knowledge or consent.  For more information click here to see her Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent.

Kirsten Hawkins, formerly with SunTrust in Staunton, Virginia, consented to the bar and to the entry of findings that she failed to provide FINRA with documents and information in connection with an investigation into allegations that she converted approximately $500,000 from a customer.  For more information click here to see her Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent.

If you believe you may have been a victim of either of these brokers or have had other issues with Merrill Lynch or SunTrust please contact an Investment Fraud Attorney at West & West for a free initial consultation.

Maryland Man Sentenced to 13 Years for Ponzi Scheme

Garfield M. Taylor of Rockville, Maryland was recently sentenced to 13 years in prison for operating a Ponzi scheme that cost investors more than $28 Million in losses.  Taylor convinced investors to invest with him by promising them substantial returns on their investments, telling them that he used a sophisticated securities trading strategy that protected against loss and claiming that he had a proven track record of using the strategy.  Taylor either lost money or made minimal profits far below what he owed, so he was forced to use principal invested by newer investors to pay interest owed to older investors.

If you think you may have fallen victim to a Ponzi scheme or other investment fraud, please contact the Baltimore Investment Fraud Recovery Law Firm of West & West for a free initial consultation.

Be Wary of Pressure to Invest Immediately

A true financial professional wants you to be comfortable and invest in what is best for you in your time. A scam artist wants you to invest in what is best for him or her as quickly as possible. Any pressure to invest immediately because the golden opportunity will be gone in a flash is a huge red flag that the investment may be a scam.  Take your time when making investment decisions and do not succumb to pressure to make spur of the moment, uninformed investment decisions.

Former Stockbroker Apparently Staged Disappearance

In Florida, the Sun Sentinel reported that Richard Ohrn, 44, a former stock broker who disappeared while fishing in the Atlantic ocean a month ago, admitted that he staged his disappearance by abandoning the boat and driving to Albany, Georgia.

According to the article Ohrn was trying to escape legal issues, including a suit by a former employer alleging that he stole from customer accounts.  FINRA records indicate that he was named in a FINRA complaint in December 2014 alleging that he converted $15,250 from two elderly clients by forging signatures. According to FINRA records, Ohrn, who is not currently registered, was previously registered with Wells Fargo Advisors

If you believe you may have a claim against Mr. Ohrn or Wells Fargo Advisors contact the stockbroker fraud lawyers at West & West for a free initial consultation.

SEC and FINRA Launch National Senior Investor Initiative Examination Program

In releasing a report on the National Senior Investor Initiative, the SEC and FINRA have reaffirmed the paramount importance of protecting senior investors.

Andrew J. Bowden, OCIE’s Director, said, “Seniors are more dependent than ever on their own investments for retirement. Broker-dealers are developing and offering a variety of new products and services that are intended to generate higher yields in a low interest rate environment. It is imperative that firms are recommending suitable investments and providing proper disclosures regarding the related terms and risks.”

“With the dramatic increase in the population of our nation’s seniors, it is critical that securities regulators work collaboratively to make sure that senior investors are treated fairly. The culture of compliance at firms is key to ensuring that seniors receive suitable recommendations and proper disclosures of the risks, benefits and costs of any investments they are purchasing,” said Susan Axelrod, FINRA Executive Vice President, Regulatory Operations.

For a link to the announcement of this initiative click here.  If you are a senior who may have been a victim of investment fraud or unethical practices by your stockbroker contact the attorneys at West & West, LLC by calling 410-296-4655 for a free initial consultation.

Former NFL Player Will Allen Accused Of Running $32M Ponzi Scheme

Former NFL Cornerback Will Allen and a business associate have been accused of running a $32 Million Ponzi Scheme thru a company that provided loans to professional athletes according to a complaint filed by the SEC.  If you would like more details, please click here.

If you believe you may have been a victim of a Ponzi scheme or other investment fraud contact the mid-Atlantic investment fraud lawyers at West & West, LLC for a free initial consultation by calling them at 410-296-4655.

Ronald Berman Formerly Of Axiom Capital Management Withdraws Maryland Registration

On March 25, 2015, Ronald M. Berman, formerly of Axiom Capital Management, Inc., withdrew his registration with the State of Maryland and agreed not to reapply for registration in Maryland as a broker-dealer, agent, investment adviser or investment adviser representative for a period of five (5) years.  Previously, Mr. Berman’s general securities representative registration was revoked by FINRA based upon Mr. Berman’s disciplinary and regulatory record, Axiom’s failure to show that it could effectively supervise Mr. Berman and Mr. Berman’s outstanding loans and the conflict presented by these loans.  To see the order click here.

If you believe that you may have been the victim of stockbroker misconduct at the hands of Mr. Berman, Axiom Capital Management or any other broker or firm, please contact West & West, LLC for a free initial consultation.